Guest Blog- Cory Wharton-Malcolm

Guest Blog- Cory Wharton-Malcolm

We invited Cory Wharton-Malcolm to write a blog and give us some fitness tips. Cory is a running coach, Runner's World columnist, founder of the West London running crew TrackMafia, and an Apple Fitness+ trainer who embarks on running adventures all over the world with 'Time To Run'. His book "All You Need Is Rhythm And Grit" was our January book of the month

Kicks. Get yourself a comfortable pair of trainers. Nothing more challenging than that. Get yourself a pair of trainers that you like the look of. They don’t have to be catwalk ready, but you should like them. I suggest getting a pair of proper running trainers as they will offer you the support and comfort that you need. Yes, it’s true that people all over the world run barefoot or in minimalistic shoes that weren’t built with running in mind, but if you would like to start your running journey in comfort and they are accessible to you, I’d suggest getting running shoes.

As I am sure you are aware, comfort is very subjective, so find something that feels right for you instead of relying solely on other people’s opinion. Of course, ask around, use the world wide web to dig into what’s available and at what cost, but ultimately the decision is yours. I’m not going to tell you what brand or style is best, just that it should FEEL GOOD TO YOU.

We all prioritise comfort features differently, so I suggest going to a specialist running shop and trying on a bunch of shoes and going from there.

 Have fun, try new things, do strength work and cross train. Something that dawned on me early on in my running career is that running can be both repetitive and boring at times. And its ok to say that. Even when I’d set myself a realistic goal, I still needed something else – the FUN element. I would introduce little games to my training to keep me motivated. I would try and beat a bike or car to the lights (Intervals). I’d speed up if I saw a white van and slow down if I saw a convertible (Fartlek). I would imagine my street as a final straight on a track and my block as the Olympic stadium. Instead of just going for runs that took me to and from home, I would arrange to meet friends at coffee shops, restaurants, parties or museums. Anything to give my run a little more purpose, or make me smile. I also realised that with my new-found cardio confidence I was more willing to try new sports or disciplines that would help me to be a fitter and stronger for running. So why not inject a little fun into your runs and or try doing some other activities. Football, Netball, Cricket, Hockey, Basketball, Baseball, Tennis, Table Tennis, Badminton, Swimming, Yoga, Pilates, Paddle Boarding Cycling or Rowing. Strength exercises like squats, lunges and press ups can also help you become a stronger more efficient runner.

 Set yourself realistic goals. One of the most important things that I did in the beginning and still continue to do now is to set myself a realistic goal. This really helped to give me focus, so on days when I wasn’t feeling very positive about getting out there, I would return to the goal. I would ask myself, how do you plan on reaching your goal if you’re not willing to me put in the work? Of course things can happen that are out of your control like injury or illness or a major life change

Now the reason I say realistic is, if my goal wasn’t attainable, I would more than likely not have been as motivated to try and achieve it. It doesn’t matter how big or how small the goal is. It doesn’t have to be based on time or distance – it could be as simple as ‘I will run three times a week.’ Or ‘I will get off the train two stops early’ or ‘Everyday I’ll take the stairs instead of the lift.’ It’s entirely up to you.

 Explore. The fitter I got the more freedom I had to explore. I found myself venturing to places that I had never been. Prior to marathon training, I had never been along the Thames Towpath, never run through the woods with deer in Richmond Park and never watched the sun set or rise from the top of the hill in Greenwich Park. One of my favourite phrases became ‘I wonder what’s down there?’ It keeps me moving. As the years have passed running has taken me all over the world and without it my experiences would not have been nearly as memorable. So ask yourself, whilst of course being safe and mindful of your surroundings, ‘What’s down there?’

 Sleep well and nap when you can.. Sleep, sleep and more sleep. This is still one I struggle with, but I am getting better at getting my eight hours a night. Why? Sleep is your secret weapon, your underrated superpower.

Sleep replenishes, repairs and regenerates our bodies. Lack of sleep also increases perception of effort, which means that when you haven’t slept enough, running feels harder. And why would you want that? Why would you want this thing that at times already feels hard to feel harder? So when you can squeeze in a sneaky little nap for some extra sleep, do that too. Whilst you’re at it why not practice some positive affirmations. I LOVE SLEEP, SLEEP IS GREAT, SLEEP WILL HELP ME BE STRONGER, FITTER & FAR MORE FABULOUS. Sing it if you’d like.

 Visualise, visualise, visualise. Before heading out for a run, regardless of how long or short, I always try and keep my thoughts POSITIVE. Some people say get out your own head. I say NO, get in your head and tell yourself you’re awesome and you are going to have a wonderful run. When you’re putting on your running kit, you are a superhero suiting up getting ready to go out and make your world a better place. Because when you smile, guess what? The whole world smiles with you. Remember, you get to get out there and run.

 Ask questions and immerse yourself in community. When I got into running I sought out people who knew more than I did and asked questions. I read books, magazines, trawled the web, watched movies, listened to podcasts and went to meets. I wanted to know how they made this thing that I found so hard look so easy. Then I went looking for my community, by way of a running club, then crew, then brand. Now they are family. If you haven’t found yours or tried to find one yet, there’s a whole new world of runners out there just waiting for you, and if you don’t want to join one, build your own. All it takes is a spark and that’s you.

 Join a Running Club. Running clubs are great in a number of ways. They give you a reason to get out there and run on days when you may not feel like running alone, or running at all. They are great for camaraderie, a place for you to feel at home like you are part of a family with a shared love. They are filled with tons of people who can give you advice, share knowledge, personal experiences, hacks and more. And don’t forget they are great places to simply meet other runners who you can spend time with, run, share the road, and have a lot of fun with.

 Compete with yourself, don’t compare yourself to others.. Remember where you are starting from and don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Not to the Olympians you see floating freely on the telly, not to your friends who have been running longer than you. And most certainly not to those who aren’t willing to get out there and join you.

 Try different types of terrains.. You can try trail races, trail runs, cross-country runs, road runs, mixed-terrain runs; they all make running more exciting, more engaging, more fun. Running on different terrains, especially on trails, is great, as at times it feels like you are doing a lot more work than you are when you are running on a flat road or on the treadmill. The reason it feels harder is because it is. On a trail run, the terrain and surface that you are running on will keep changing. There could be lots of sneaky uphills or inclines that help to build a little more strength in your legs. You have to be a lot more aware of your surroundings, so you have to use your eyes and engage your brain a little more. It’s harder to switch on autopilot and just cruise, and you have to look out for tree stumps, rocks, roots, branches and of course wild-life. Combine that with the uneven surface and you are working on switching up your stride length constantly, strengthening your ankles, your running ABC – Agility, Balance and Coordination. And proprioception – a greater awareness of your surroundings and increased responsiveness to said surroundings. 

Try different types of runs.There are many different types of runs that can help you increase the speed of your run or the length of your run. All pieces of a puzzle that can come together to help you become a better runner. It’s like when you create a player on a video game, each activity you do adds a little star to your overall running ability. Some are better for speed, some for strength, some help with balance and coordination, others with endurance and mental strength. But all help you progress to becoming a more well-rounded runner, so try them all. Long and easy, short and fast, really short and a little bit faster, uphills, downhills, stairs, treadmills, trails and tracks. 

All You Need is Rhythm and Grit is out now.

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